Nonprofit Entrepreneurship

Hiring Personnel for a Nonprofit

Hiring personnel for a nonprofit is very different from hiring staff at a for-profit organizations. This primer on nonprofit HR and nonprofit hiring explains what you ought to consider as you recruit nonprofit employees.

If you started your nonprofit with hopes of supervising a large staff earning better than average salaries, prepare to be disappointed.

Hiring Personnel for a Nonprofit

There is a world of difference between hiring workers for a business and staffing a nonprofit organization with quality personnel. Even so, thousands of other nonprofits have done it and you can do it, too - if you know what to look for.

The most significant hurdle that needs to be addressed in nonprofit staffing is cash. Nonprofits aren't known to pay high salaries and most can't afford to compete with their for-profit counterparts. That means you'll have to either find something else to entice staff recruits or get creative. Typically, nonprofits do a little bit of both.

Board Members

The first and most obvious place to look for people to staff your organization's programs and projects is your board of directors. Board members are unpaid, but committed individuals who probably expect to be asked to donate some of their time. However, be careful not to overload your board members. If you demand too much of them, you may lose them altogether.


Since you can't rely exclusively on your board members, you're going to need to find another source of cheap labor to get the job done. That's where volunteers come in. Believe it or not, there is a sizeable group of individuals in your community who are willing to work for your organization for free. Your job is to find them. The fact that volunteers tend to donate money as well as time is the icing on the cake.

Second Career People

Volunteers have limitations. Sometimes you need to bite the bullet and hire full-time, paid staff. A good place to begin your search is with retirees and second-career individuals. These types of recruits often possess skills and experience that easily transfer from the corporate world to a nonprofit setting. Also, salary level is less of an issue with these folks, making it easier for them to devote their time to a cause they truly care about.

Job Sharing

If thinking outside of the box interests you, you may want to consider staffing certain positions through job sharing. Sometimes nonprofits will share a full-time worker (like a bookkeeper) between their organizations. It might also be possible to convince a for-profit company to donate the time of one or more of their employees as a tax-deductible contribution.

Nonprofit Careerists

Last (but certainly not least) are the nonprofit careerists. Some individuals are perfectly content earning slightly less working for a nonprofit because they are passionate about the nonprofit's mission. In exchange for a respectable salary and benefits your organization will receive the knowledge and experience of a nonprofit professional. But more importantly, your organization will benefit from the passion and excitement they bring to the job.

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